China on Tuesday said the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which began its meeting on Monday in Seoul, were holding discussions on the accession of all countries, which had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In response to questions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that regarding India’s accession to the NSG-the 48-member club that controls the global flows of nuclear technology and material “members have different opinions regarding whether or not non-NPT countries could join the group”.

Refusing to make an exception for India, she said: “Therefore, we are now talking about non-NPT members joining as a whole rather than any other specific non-NPT country’s accession.” She added: “China’s position in this regard is not directed against any specific country. It applies to all non-NPT countries.”

Speaking separately to resident Indian journalists, Ms. Hua said that “the door is open for discussion for the admission of all non-NPT countries” into the NSG. She stressed that the existing policy could change through a “a change in criteria” for admission, but NSG members have to consider the fallout of their decision on countries such as Iran, which has recently signed a nuclear deal with the global powers, and the North Korean issue.

In response to a query regarding remarks by U.S. State Department spokesman, backing India’s admission to the NSG, Ms. Hua said that U.S. was backtracking from the espousal of its own rules, which demand that only signatories of the NPT are eligible for admission to the NSG.

India has not signed the NPT.

“You just mentioned that the U.S. has expressed support [for India’s NSG bid] in a statement, but I myself have not seen the statement yet. However, the U.S. is also one of those who made the rule that non-NPT countries should not join the NSG and the relevant rule is made on the principle that the NPT be made the cornerstone of the NSG.”

Separately, China’s state-run tabloid Global Times on Tuesday sought to pair India’s bid for membership of the NSG with Pakistan, by absolving Islamabad of any role in the controversial the A.Q. Khan affair.

An op-ed in the daily pointed out that the government in Islamabad was not responsible for the activities of Abdul Qadeer Khan — the country’s former chief nuclear scientist, accused of running a worldwide clandestine network of proliferating nuclear weapon technology.

“While India strives for NSG inclusion, it prevents Pakistan from joining by insisting on the latter’s bad record of nuclear proliferation. Actually, the proliferation carried out by Pakistan was done by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s chief nuclear scientist, and was not an official policy of the Pakistani government. Khan was punished by the government afterward with several years of house arrest. If the NPT and the NSG can give India an exemption, it should apply to Pakistan as well,” the daily said.

A Chinese official, who did not wish to be named, said that the Global Times, though run under the official People’s Daily flagship of the Communist Party of China (CPC), does not necessarily reflect the official view in its


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